From the Field: Global Perspectives

Dana Loatman, ’16, Reporting from Brussels, Belgium

This semester, Innovate@BCSW is following the experiences of four BC Social Work students who have embarked on international field education placements in Latin America, Europe, and Africa. Stay tuned during the spring for ongoing updates through student-crafted blog posts, video diaries, and photography. 

 

Blog 1: The Arrival

By Dana Loatman
On January 15th, 2016 I found myself at Washington DC Dulles Airport, waving goodbye to my family yet again on a purpose driven mission. Where to this time? Belgium!

La Grand-Place in Brussels is a World Heritage Site.

La Grand-Place in Brussels is a World Heritage Site.

Less than 8 hours later I would arrive in Brussels with a combination of great excitement and anxiety. Stunned at the old beautiful European architecture, intrigued by the culture of international diversity in the regions capital, and nervous at the realization that I knew not an ounce of French, I found peace in the reason why I was here. There’s something about being a social worker that makes you feel like everything will be okay. I often remind myself that “its not about you, its about the people who will be impacted!”

My host family welcomed me; a couple (a lawyer and a painter/refugee art instructor) and their three-year-old baby girl, as well as Kathryn Doyle, a fellow global practice student working at Jesuit Refugee Service on European policy initiatives for refugees. Interestingly, she’s not the only BCSSW representative here in Europe’s capital, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting with two other alumni, one working at the International Business School and another at Crisis Action.

A few days after arriving, I started at World Vision International, welcomed by a team of passionate and fun people from Ireland, the Netherlands, UK, Romania, Iran, France, and Sweden. My supervisor had me jump right in, and within the first two weeks I presented to 40+ nonprofit leaders and also attended several meetings and events hosted by the European Commission, World Trade Organization, and United Nations Panels on sustainable development and economics.

Loatman is hard at work on World Vision's Sustainable Development Goals initiative.

Loatman is hard at work on the European Union’s Sustainable Development Goals initiative.

While World Vision is my host organization, I have the pleasure of working as a Sustainable Development Goals Strategy and Implementation intern for a new startup alliance called the SDG Coalition; a partnership of 100+ civil society organizations (CSOs-nonprofits, foundations, think tanks) working in the environment, social policy, development, sustainability, and economic sectors. SDG Coalition’s mission is to make the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Agenda a reality by ensuring that the EU achieves all of the goals and targets and strongly supports low and middle-income countries.

My work will involve applying for 50,000 euros in startup funding, identifying strategic partnerships (public, private, and nonprofit), and developing an evaluation/mapping and analysis of EU-based nonprofit organizations and their interest in the implementation of the 17 UN goals. When I return back to DC in April, I will continue to remotely provide recommendations for the coalition, including next steps in relation to operations, policy and advocacy efforts, while also commenting on the political implications for engagement with the European Union political institutions and the United Nations.

It is here that I truly dive into the definition of “macro” social work, using a variety of skills gained at BCSSW; leadership, policy, programming, innovation, evaluation, and community organizing. I believe that CSOs’ participation in policy processes is key to ensuring inclusive and effective policies to help overcome challenges of poverty, widening inequalities, social exclusion, and unsustainable development. I’m looking forward to this experience; stay tuned for more fun things to come from Belgium!

An art installation at St. Bavo's Cathedral in Ghent, Belgium.

An art installation at St. Bavo’s Cathedral in Ghent, Belgium.

Loatman with friend Kathryn

Loatman (right) with fellow global practice student Kathryn Doyle at the Mont des Arts, an historic site in central Brussels.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dana Loatman is spending the semester working for World Vision International, with a particular focus on a budding network called the Sustainable Development Goals Coalition.

5 thoughts on “From the Field: Global Perspectives

  1. This is awesome,! What a great holistic perspective Dana and the other students will have on life. She will be an enormous asset to the nonprofit, private, or public sector!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Always a GREAT ASSET, when we are able to reduce ourselves and makes strides and sacrifices that impact the lives of others. Often the work of the Red Cross, UN, and other great organization is temporary because the next crisis calls, but in this case I’m glad to see that it has been figured out by Dana, and her affiliated organizations. …the key is “Self Sustaining .” The “band aid ” application used for so many years has in many cases failed the targeted Countries (and communities) and often lead to corruption and misappropriation of aid, assistance and funding because of mismanagement after the organization is gone. Way to look at the bigger picture and the long term. Hat’s off to Dana, BCSW program, World Vision International, EU, ETC, the world appreciates your focus, determination and efforts. This approach is how we conquer poverty. TY

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Dana,

      The experience you are obtaining through this opportunity, I’m sure is so life changing to a young mind and is so revitalizing and invigorating. Simply an awesome journey you’re on. I am happy that you are venturing out beyond the borders of Washington D.C. into new territories abroad. So many young people do not have the courage to explored other areas of life outside of where they grew up. Bravo young lady and keep up the good work.

      Tawana

      Like

  3. Hi Dana,

    The experience you are obtaining through this opportunity, I’m sure is so life changing to a young mind and is so revitalizing and invigorating. Simply an awesome journey you’re on. I am happy that you are venturing out beyond the borders of Washington D.C. into new territories abroad. So many young people do not have the courage to explored other areas of life outside of where they grew up. Bravo young lady and keep up the good work.

    Tawana

    Like

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